Notes from the meeting of the Library Board of Trustees Director Selection Committee
Charles Fegan, Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, welcomed the members of the Committee and also welcomed Sharon Bulova, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Fegan stated that the Committee’s task is to find candidates for the final interview for the Director’s position by the Library Board. He noted the growth of the FCPL system under Sam Clay and said that he felt privileged to have worked with Sam for many years. He said that the Library is a $30 million dollar a year organization with over 500 employees; the next Director will have to be knowledgeable in many areas such as finance and organizational development in addition to technical matters related to libraries.
Sharon Bulova added her appreciation for Sam Clay’s years of presiding over FCPL’s evolution from a rural library system to the much larger system that it is today. She related her memory of contacting Mr. Clay years ago in her position as a newly hired aide to Audrey Moore to arrange for “mobile library” service to the Robinson Square housing complex to provide constructive activities for young people who lived there and were getting into trouble. She said that no one legislates that we must have a library system; she considers FCPL a major quality of life resource and noted the really strong Friends organizations. She stated that the Committee is doing important work in searching for a new Director who will develop the library system for the future. She affirmed that the Library Board is an authority and added that the Board of Supervisors needs to be involved and to weigh in on the hiring of a new Director. She spoke of her interest in renewing a close relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the Library Board. A date is being sought to meet for “board to board” renewal. (NOTE: For a transcript of some of Chairman Bulova's more assertive remarks, please read this transcript.)
Karrie Delaney asked the members of the Search Committee to introduce themselves. In addition to Sharon Bulova and Charles Fegan, two other attendees who are not Committee members introduced themselves: Sue Woodruff, head of County HR, and Leslie Amiri, an HR staff person who may assist the Committee. Ms. Delaney said that at the end of today’s meeting, she wanted Committee members to feel confident about understanding the scope of effort and County regulations that will come into play.
Sue Woodruff presented an information packet which contained the current position description for the Library Director and the position class specifications. Both documents can be edited. She also furnished to Committee members a copy of the summary report and findings of the Trustees’ Communication and Evaluation Committee which she stated showed what was on people’s minds. She provided copies of guidance on selecting a Director from the Library of Virginia’s Manual for Trustees. She noted that executive level recruitments in County Government are a little more flexible in process. She gave the Committee members a timeline covering what needs to be accomplished over the next several months including deciding what kind of outreach for public comment that the Committee wishes to do, developing the job ad, deciding on the time period during which the ad will run and the time period during which applications will be accepted, and making contacts through professional organizations to spread the word to people who are not actively seeking new positions but who might be recruited to apply. Ms. Woodruff initially suggested the months of June, July and August 2015 as the time period during which applications could be accepted. Mr. Fegan noted that summer is perhaps a less desirable time because many people who are searching for new positions would have secured them before summer. The level of job seeking activity may decline during summer due to vacations. Ms. Woodruff then suggested May, June and July 2015 with the possibility of extending the application period through September.
There was some discussion about Freedom of Information requirements as well as any legal restrictions on what the Committee may say and do that the Committee would need to be aware of. Ms. Woodruff said that she has sent an inquiry to the County Attorney to obtain information and answers for the Committee on the questions of privacy and confidentiality. She stressed the need for clarity on the confidentiality issue. Names of candidates for the Director’s position should not be shared with the public.
Chairman Bulova suggested creating focus groups to put together a list of attributes that would be desirable in the next Director. Ms. Delaney spoke in favor of several months of outreach to the public asking what this position means to people and what traits would be important to them. Ms. Delaney discussed ways to move forward on collecting such information including hosting public outreach sessions in different parts of the County at different times – perhaps one meeting in each regional library. The meetings should have facilitators. There was a discussion on ways to get a good turnout with a diverse group of participants. Mr. Molchany suggested that Pat Harrison, Deputy County Executive for Human Services, Ann Cahill, and Tony Castrilli, Director of the Office of Public Affairs would be very good resource people because they have experience in doing successful outreach in multiple communities. He also said that County agencies could supply facilitators. A discussion followed on the best ways to advertise these public meetings including using the Friends of the Libraries’ mailing lists, FCPL cardholders, and advertising to parents who bring children to Library programs and to groups who book the Library branches’ meeting rooms. The Committee also discussed the possibility of connecting this outreach effort to the planned outreach effort for the Library’s upcoming community survey. The Fairfax County Public Schools serve a large population and would have a huge mailing list. It was proposed that a representative from the School Board be invited to a future Search Committee meeting.
The Committee discussed its next steps which include setting up meetings with County managers who can advise on outreach, planning public outreach meetings and focus groups, collecting public feedback on desirable traits in the next Director and then analyzing this data for the recruitment effort. It was suggested that the County’s 50 Plus Committee might be an excellent focus group. Both Jennifer McCullough and Duwain Ketch proposed a second Committee meeting in the near future. Karrie Delaney said that the Committee should consider meeting monthly to track its activities and progress.